Dragon’s Dogma 2 First Impressions Review — From A Dragon’s Dogma Newbie

Twelve years after the first game, CAPCOM released the sequel to Dragon’s Dogma on March 22nd and we haven’t stopped playing it since. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a single player, open world action role-playing game where you play as the Arisen, a hero destined to defeat the Dragon of legend.

Set in a medieval fantasy world parallel to the first game, take on quests and fight monsters amidst a geopolitical conflict between two major kingdoms, Vermund and Battahl. Allies called Pawns support you throughout your journey, serving as your guides and most loyal companions.

Developed by: CAPCOM

Played on: PlayStation 5

Length: 22 hours (Main Story); ≈70 hours (Completionist)

The Good

Before we jump into the review, I have to mention that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is my first entry into the franchise. But even without any knowledge of the first game, the sequel is perfectly friendly for newcomers and I would highly recommend it for people who enjoy open world medieval fantasy settings — here’s why.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 boasts a ridiculously massive map that’s four times larger than the first game, spanning a rich geopolitical landscape covering two kingdoms. Yet despite its size, there’s something new to discover in every nook and cranny. From secret treasures to surprise boss fights, the game evokes a sense of awe that open world gamers will devour wholeheartedly; and something I last felt only while playing Breath of the Wild.

Moreover, the open world in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is incredibly organic and immersively designed. There are no two places in this world that look alike, and you’ll often stumble upon hidden areas and quests purely by chance. The game doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to exploration, allowing players to experience the wonder of uncovering more secrets about the world by themselves.

Combat takes many forms in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and there’s something for every type of play style. I personally began my journey as a Mage, then swapped my vocation to Sorcerer, which is a beginner-friendly option for those who aren’t a fan of more complex combat. But if you ever want to give something else a try, the game encourages you to change your vocation any time you like.

Considering how much time you’re spending with the game, being able to try out different vocations adds some much-appreciated variance to gameplay. It also fundamentally changes the way you interact with the world around you, as each vocation has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some vocations are certainly stronger than others, with magic users feeling slightly overpowered than most, but not quite enough to knock the entire game out of balance.

For fans of “creative” combat, Dragon’s Dogma 2 scratches the same itch as the recent Legend of Zelda titles; allowing players to take advantage of destructible environments to grant them an edge in combat. From hurling and blowing up oil barrels, to destroying bridges and dooming enemies to death by Brine, the game allows you to get away with a ton of “creative warfare” as long as you’re willing to try.

Lastly, the Pawn system is a hallmark of the franchise and continues to play a prominent role in the sequel. You can use Pawns to balance out your weaknesses, like ensuring you always have a Mage to provide heals and buffs, and a Warrior to act as the tank. Admittedly, the concept of having three AI-controlled characters follow you around does feel strange at first, but eventually the friendship simulation kicks in and they start to feel endearing — stupidity and all.

Although Pawns are helpful in battle and carrying around all the loot you pick up, I find the most value in them from a social aspect. Being able to share your Pawns with friends, and trade information about quests and map areas you’ve already discovered, is one of the coolest parts of the game. Bumping into former Pawns wandering freely around the world just adds brownie points.

The Not-So-Good

We can’t talk about Dragon’s Dogma 2 without addressing the microtransactions. Its reveal caused the game to be review bombed upon release, and there’s much to be said about the predatory nature of microtransactions in an already-expensive game. However, having played over 40 hours so far, I can safely confirm that they don’t affect your playthrough whatsoever. In fact, most of the items can be found in-game with barely any effort.

Microtransactions aside, the game is undoubtedly priced above average for a AAA game of its scale. Although I would still recommend it for hardcore open world gamers, and existing fans of Dragon’s Dogma, I would also recommend checking your device requirements before taking the leap. CAPCOM is reportedly working on a patch to fix performance issues on both PC and console. Personally, I have yet to encounter any major performance issues on my PlayStation 5.

Still, the console port does suffer from mildly frustrating UI/UX design here and there. I find myself struggling the most with inventory management, especially when I’m trying to balance the weight of my pack between my Arisen and Pawns, and I have no choice but to transfer items over individually.

Our Verdict (So Far!)

I am only 40+ hours into my playthrough of Dragon’s Dogma 2 and it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface. The game is an open world RPG through and through, featuring a massively explorable world filled to the brim with secrets and treasures around every corner. The flexible vocation system and interesting Pawn mechanics add hours of variance to gameplay, while surprise enemy encounters combined with unique environments allows players to approach each battle in new and creative ways.

For open world gamers and fans of the first Dragon’s Dogma, this is easily one of the must-play games of the year. But don’t forget to check your device requirements first, or you might be playing the waiting game until CAPCOM pushes out that optimisation patch.

Also, real meat!

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